Al-Ghazâlîs Classifications of the Sciences and Descriptions of the Highest Theoretical Science
The present study offers a comprehensive survey of al-Ghazalis classifications of the sciences and descriptions of the highest theoretical science, called the science of unveiling in the Re-vival of the Religious Sciences and the science of the cognition of God in the Jewels of the Quran. The study shows that this theoretical science includes four major components, dealing with (1) God, (2) cosmology, (3) prophetology, angelology, and religious psychology, and (4) eschatology (with a fifth component, principles of Quranic exegesis, sometimes added to the list). Al-Ghazalis science of unveiling is, therefore, primarily a theological discipline. It is, however, superior to kalam in that it does not result from ratiocination, but is revealed through Divine Illumination to prophets and saints (awliya) who have purified their hearts with as-cetic practice. Another key difference between the science of unveiling and kalam, according to al-Ghazali, is that the former operates on the level of True Knowledge, whereas the latter only defends the common folks beliefs from the onslaught of heresies, without providing ac-cess to True Knowledge. Since the science of unveiling has a pronounced Avicennian compo-nent (more fully documented in the authors other studies), it is a kind of Avicennian-based esoteric theology. Finally, al-Ghazalis classifications of the sciences offer a number of inter-esting insights into the general structure of al-Ghazalis thought, also discussed in the present study.
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